Gabby Giffords
Rep. Giffords before the shooting. Image: bill85704/Flickr/CC BY

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) announced Sunday that she will resign her seat in Congress this week. About a year ago, the Congresswoman suffered a near-fatal gunshot injury while conducting a “Congress on Your Corner” meeting with constituents at a supermarket in Tucson. Her last official act Monday will be to finish that aborted meeting.

A tragic day

Giffords was shot in the head at point blank range in a Jan. 8, 2011, mass shooting that left six dead and 13 wounded. One of those slain was a nine-year-old girl. The shooting sparked a national debate over political divisiveness.

Stepping down to recover

Giffords continues on a long road to recovery, necessitating vacating her elected office before the end of her third elected term.

“I don’t remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice,” she told the nation Sunday. “I have more work to do on my recovery, so to do what is best for Arizona, I will step down this week.”

Giffords also said she has some business before stepping down.  She met privately with survivors from the shooting today to finish her “interrupted” meeting. She also plans to attend President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

‘Finishing the meeting’

Giffords met with survivors Monday at her offices in a bittersweet private affair that also involved visiting a food bank that was set up in her honor after the shooting. Pictures were posted from the event on Facebook and Twitter. One shows Gifford’s embracing her former intern, Daniel Hernandez, who may have saved her life by trying to control her bleeding until EMTs arrived.

Giffords’ staff has been holding up the duties of her office while the Congresswoman has been recovering. Her term was due to end this year, and many of her constituents were hoping she would seek re-election.

Support from colleagues

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a close friend of the Congresswoman, supported her in her decision.

“For the past year, Gabby has shown the world the person I have always known — an extraordinary woman of fierce drive, determination and courage. Gabby made the right decision for her and her family, but this is just the beginning of the next chapter of her story. I know that Gabby will find other ways to fulfill her calling of public service and continue to lead and inspire the nation.”

A special election free-for-all

A special election will be held in the following months to fill her seat. Rumors have abounded that her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, may run for the seat. However, according to the Washington Post, “Democratic officials in Washington and Arizona do not expect Kelly or any of Giffords’ top staff members to do so.”

Giffords’ district borders on Mexico and is considered a swing district. It should lead to a political free-for-all as Republicans try to take the seat away from Democrats.

Sources

MSNBC
Tucson Citizen
Washington Post

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